It's been said that recruiting is a marathon.
Ed Orgeron is ready to sprint.
Led by their first-year recruiting coordinator, Tennessee's coaches will be on the road in full force on Monday to evaluate prospects, interview high school coaches and maybe even kiss a baby or two.
The 2009 signing class is a distant memory - as is the frenetic scramble that was needed to secure a nationally rated top 10 haul.
Now there's another game of catch-up to be played. See, most schools were devising their 2010 recruiting game plan in December and January when their 2009 class was mostly complete. With a new coaching staff, Tennessee didn't have that luxury.
"We're really a year behind but I'll never use that as an excuse," Orgeron said. "As the recruiting coordinator, as the leader, I'll never use an excuse. We're going to get them."
Orgeron "no excuses" policy filters down to his entire staff.
"I tell guys 'If you don't believe you're going to go get the recruit, don't go. Let me go. Don't go knocking on that door.' " Orgeron said. "I believe I'm going to sign everybody I'm recruiting. Now I don't always sign everybody I'm recruiting but I have that belief."
That belief in his own ability was born in Miami as he mentored under coach Jimmy Johnson, the ultimate guru of talent evaluation.
Things were simpler then. Now modern technology has had an impact.
Orgeron and his UT staff will hit high school practice fields with video cameras in hand, a practice Orgeron first employed as coach at Ole Miss.
It's the equivalent of recruiting teleconferencing. And it's all about talent evaluation, just like Johnson preached.
Orgeron doesn't care that holding cameras may make him or his coaches look a bit odd. When the Vols are back in their meeting room evaluating tape, they'll be ready to decide just who they'll offer.
By bringing back tape of prospects, each coach can share his opinion and quick, decisive decisions can be made.
Orgeron learned the importance of early recruiting while at Syracuse. Joe Paterno at Penn State offered scholarships earlier and secured his class long before other schools in the region.
"I didn't know anything about junior recruiting," Orgeron said. "We never junior recruited at Miami."
The Hurricanes never had to. They were in talent-rich South Florida. Walk out the front door of the training complex and there's likely a handful of prospects within earshot.
Orgeron took junior recruiting to another level at Ole Miss in 2005 as other SEC coaches privately criticized him.
"When I first got the job at Ole Miss, I was the one that was early offering everybody," Orgeron said. "Everybody said 'What is he doing?'
"Now everybody is doing it. Everybody has caught up now."
When Orgeron landed at Southern California in 1998, he learned some finer points of salesmanship - namely that criticizing other schools only helps the competition.
"If somebody would mention another school, I'd say 'That's a good school. They've got some good things about them. I know some of those coaches.' " Orgeron said. "I don't ever recall bashing another school. I don't need to do that.
"We've got too many good things at the school I'm at to talk about. All I talk about is Tennessee."
"I like to be first" Orgeron said. "I like to be the first to offer. I like to be the first in the school. I like to be the first to call the parents. I think when you do that and you show them a consistent coverage, you're going to get most of the guys."
Orgeron would love to secure a couple dozen of the nation's top prospects during the spring evaluation period. Realistically, that's probably not going to happen.
Instead, Orgeron and crew will look to add some commitments while deciding what prospects they need to have at their camps in June.
"Get 'em to camp so I can work them," Orgeron said.
That's how Orgeron best evaluates a prospect - physically, mentally and emotionally.
"You get to see the whole package there," Orgeron said. "It's still not 100 percent but I would weigh that over anything else."
Testing under his watchful eye allows Orgeron to determine a prospect's true size/speed ratio, another important factor in the Orgeron recruiting gameplan.
Orgeron's tireless work ethic likely comes from his mother, who wasn't the sleep-in type.
"Every time I woke up, she was wired," Orgeron said with a smile. "I come from a family of hard workers. My dad never told me I had to play football. He just said 'Make sure you work hard and be the best at whatever you do.' I took that advice."
Visiting with Orgeron, it's hard not to imagine him being burned out at some point in his career. Orgeron said that's not a concern.
"I've had this motor about me since I can remember," He said. "This is nothing I have to put on. Sometimes I have to tone it down. This is Ed Orgeron. This is me.
"The thing I really enjoy about Tennessee and I really enjoy about working with Lane Kiffin, is they hired me for who I am. (USC coach) Pete Carroll hired me for who I was. They loved it. Southern Cal loved it and it looks like Tennessee loves it.
"I'm really appreciative of that."